October 14, 2003

Deception Down Under

Andrew Wilkie's name is scrawled, as I have mentione
before, on the John O'Neill Wall of Heroes. Here is a
transcript of his testimony, provided by one of the
bastions of the Informaiton Rebellion,
www.tompaine.com. Of course, you will not be suprised
to find out that his name has not been uttered on the
cable news networks here in the U.S., his story has
not been told on the cable news networks in the U.S.,
which, as I have mentioned before, is an outrage
almost as eggregious as sending men and women to die
in a war on false pretenses. It is so ironic that the
-resident is now complaining about the "US mainstream
news media" only reporting the negative news from
Iraq. If they had broadcast even a third of the
relevant and damaging news there would be mobs in the
street outside the White House. All the "US mainstream
news media" has done is report the deaths of US GIs
(sort of). And for that paltry public service, the
Bush cabal is excoriating them and "going over their
heads" to the "American people." Incredible.


Deception Down Under

Andrew Wilkie is a top-level Australian intelligence
officer who recently resigned over his government's
manipulation of intelligence to justify joining the
war in Iraq.

Andrew Wilkie is a top-level Australian intelligence
officer who recently resigned over his government's
manipulation of intelligence to justify joining the
war in Iraq. On Aug. 22, Wilkie testified before a
parliamentary committee about the intelligence cited
by Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Many
Australian, British and American intelligence analysts
have said that intelligence was abused in the run-up
to the war, but only Wilkie has resigned in protest.
Those who dismiss such efforts as an exercise in
futility should know that, in a rare move, the
Australian Senate on Oct. 7 censured Howard for
misleading the public in justifying sending off
Australian troops to war. The Senate statement of
censure noted that Howard had produced no evidence to
justify his claims last March that Iraq had stockpiles
of biological and chemical weapons. The Senate also
castigated the prime minister for suppressing
Australian intelligence warnings that war with Iraq
would increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack.
One senator accused Howard of "unprecedented deceit.

What follows is an edited transcript of Wilkie's Aug.
22 testimony. It was provided by VIPS, Veteran
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of
retired senior American intelligence professionals
from the CIA, State Department and military's
intelligence agencies.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me to appear
before the Committee.

You would be well aware that I resigned from the
Office of National Assessments [Australia's CIA],
before the Iraq war, because I assessed that invading
Iraq would not be the most sensible and ethical way to
resolve the Iraq issue. I chose resignation,
specifically, because compromise or seeking to create
change from within ONA were not realistic options.

At the time I resigned I put on the public record
three fundamental concerns. Firstly, that Iraq did not
pose a serious enough security threat to justify a
war. Secondly, that too many things could go wrong.
And, thirdly, that war was still totally unnecessary
because options short of war were yet to be exhausted.

My first concern is especially relevant today. It was
based on my assessment that Iraq's conventional armed
forces were weak, that Iraq’s Weapons of Mass
Destruction program was disjointed and contained, and
that there was no hard evidence of any active
cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

Now the government has claimed repeatedly I was not
close enough to the Iraq issue to know what I'm
talking about. Such statements have misled the public
and have been exceptionally hurtful to me.

I was a Senior Analyst with a top secret positive vet
security clearance. I'd been awarded a Superior rating
in my last performance appraisal, and not long before
I resigned Id been informed by the Deputy
Director-General that thought was being given to my
being promoted.

Because of my military background (I had been a
regular army infantry Lieutenant Colonel), I was
required to be familiar with war-related issues…and
was on standby to cover Iraq once the war began.

I've also worked specifically on WMD issues. In 1999 I
prepared the assessment on WMD and terrorism, and
represented ONA at the WMD working group held in the
U.K. In 2001 I helped prepare the update on my 1998
assessment, and I represented ONA at the Australian
WMD working group.

I was involved also in covering global terrorism
issues. In fact, on two occasions I provided the
relevant brief for the Standing Advisory Committee for
the Protection Against Violence.

Finally, as the Senior ONA Transnational Issues
Analyst, I was involved routinely in matters relating
to Iraq. This provided me with almost unrestricted
access to intelligence on that country. In particular,
my December 2002 assessment on the possible
humanitarian implications of a war required me to
research in detail the strategic threat posed by
Saddam Hussein.

If I could now turn more directly to the Committee's
Terms of Reference. When I said that Iraq's WMD
program was 'disjointed and contained,' I was
describing a limited chemical and biological program
focused on developing a break-out capability, in part
by reliance on dual-use facilities.

Weapons production was possible, though only on a
small scale. My view was broadly consistent with ONA's
position, maybe a little more moderate. I still
believe evidence of such a program may be found
eventually, if not already.

Now, in fairness to Australian and Allied intelligence
agencies, Iraq was a tough target. From time to time
there were shortages of human intelligence on the
country. At other times the preponderance of
anti-Saddam sources desperate for United States
intervention ensured a flood of disinformation.
Collecting technical intelligence was equally

A problem for Australian agencies was their reliance
on Allies. We had virtually no influence on foreign
intelligence collection planning, and the raw
intelligence seldom arrived with adequate notes on
sources or reliability. More problematic was the way
in which Australia's tiny agencies needed to rely on
the sometimes weak and skewed views contained in the
assessments prepared in Washington.

A few problems were inevitable. For instance,
intelligence gaps were sometimes back-filled with the
disinformation. Worst-case sometimes took primacy over
most-likely. The threat was sometimes overestimated as
a result of the fairy tales coming out of the U.S. And
sometimes Government pressure, as well as politically
correct intelligence officers themselves, resulted in
its own bias.

But, overall, Australian agencies did, I believe, an
acceptable job reporting on the existence of, the
capacity and willingness to use, and immediacy of the
threat, posed by Iraq. Assessments were OK, not least
because they were always heavily qualified to reflect
the ambiguous intelligence picture.

How then to explain the big gap between the
Government's pre-war claims about Iraq possessing a
massive arsenal of WMD and cooperating actively with
Al Qaeda and the reality that no arsenal of weapons or
evidence of substantive links have yet been found?

Well, most often the Government deliberately skewed
the truth by taking the ambiguity out of the issue.
Key intelligence assessment qualifications like
'probably', 'could' and 'uncorroborated evidence
suggests' were frequently dropped. Much more useful
words like 'massive' and 'mammoth' were included, even
though such words had not been offered to the
government by the intelligence agencies. Before we
knew it, the Government had created a mythical Iraq,
one where every factory was up to no good and
weaponization was continuing apace.

Equally misleading was the way in which the Government
misrepresented the truth. For example, when the
Government spoke of Iraq having form (being up to no
good), it cited pre-1991 Gulf War examples, like the
use of chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds.
Mind you, the Government needed to be creative,
because 12 years of sanctions, inspections and air
strikes had virtually disarmed modern Iraq.

The Government also chose to use the truth
selectively. For instance, much was said about the
risk of WMD terrorism. But what was not made clear was
that the risk of WMD terrorism is low, that leakage of
weapons from a state arsenal is unlikely, and that the
weapon most likely to be used will be crude. That is,
the chemical, biological or radiological device most
likely to be used will not be a WMD.

The Government even went so far as to fabricate the
truth. The claims about Iraq cooperating actively with
al Qaida were obviously nonsense. As was the
Government's reference to Iraq seeking uranium in
Africa, despite the fact that ONA, the Department of
Defence, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade, all knew the Niger story was fraudulent. This
was critical information. It beggars belief that ONA
knew it was discredited but didn't advise the Prime
Minister, Defence knew but didn't tell the Defence
Minister, and Foreign Affairs knew but didn't tell the
Foreign Minister.

Please remember the Government was also receiving
detailed assessments on the United States in which it
was made very clear the United States was intent on
invading Iraq for more important reasons than WMD and
terrorism. Hence all this talk about WMD and terrorism
was hollow. Much more likely is the proposition the
Government deliberately exaggerated the Iraq WMD
threat so as to stay in step with the United States.

In closing, I wish to make it clear that I do not
apologise for, or withdraw from, my accusation that
the Howard government misled the Australian public
over Iraq, both through its own public statements, as
well as through its endorsement of Allied statements.

The government lied every time it said or implied that
I was not senior enough or appropriately placed in ONA
to know what I was talking about. And the government
lied every time it skewed, misrepresented, used
selectively and fabricated the Iraq story.

But these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
For instance, the government lied when the Prime
Minister's Office told the media I was mentally
unstable. The government lied when it associated Iraq
with the Bali bombing. And the government lied every
time it linked Iraq to the War on Terror.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister in
particular have a lot to answer for. After all, they
were the chief cheerleaders for the invasion of
another country, without U.N. endorsement, for reasons
that have now been discredited.

Mr. Chairman, I've skimmed over a lot of important
issues here. Of course I'd now welcome the opportunity
to discuss any particular aspect in more detail.

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Published: Oct 13 2003

Posted by richard at October 14, 2003 04:31 PM